With Steven Matz appearing as the odd man out of the rotation, the New York Mets are likely to trade him before the start of next season.
The 28-year-old is coming off a respectable 2019 performance and will be entering his age-29 season in 2020. Matz also has two years of team control left on his current contract.
According to multiple outlets, Matz is also expected to earn just over $5 million through arbitration this winter.
This past season with the Mets, Matz made 30 starts and produced a 4.21 ERA, 4.60 FIP, 4.33 xFIP, 1.34 WHIP, .258 OPP AVG, 22.1% strikeout rate, 7.5% walk rate, 17.4% HR/FB rate and a 1.6 fWAR over 160.1 innings pitched.
While Matz is approaching 30-years-old, the left-hander has proven to still be capable of providing quality results. During each of the last two seasons, Matz has made at least 30 starts while also generating a combined 4.09 ERA as well.
Obviously, there’s no certainty the Mets would use Matz as bait. The lefty could very well remain in tow. In the event Brodie Van Wagenen does pull the trigger, based on his production from this past season, here are five teams who could be interested in acquiring Matz from the Mets this winter:
Toronto Blue Jays
Starting with the Blue Jays, they’re certainly a team that could benefit from acquiring Matz. Aside from Hyun-jin Ryu and Tanner Roark, their rotation is filled with a ton of uncertainty.
Adding Matz to their pitching staff would provide the Blue Jays with another pitcher who’s capable of eating innings and producing quality starts as well. During this past season, Matz threw more innings than any other pitcher who took the mound for the Blue Jays in 2019.
The one major concern with Matz is the number of home runs he allowed this past season. Among starters who completed at least 150 innings, Matz’s 17.4% HR/FB rate was tied for the 13th-highest throughout the entire league. Since all five ballparks in the AL East are home run friendly, that rate could continue to increase during next season.
Given that the lefty owns two seasons of club control, the Mets would likely receive a decent return from the Blue Jays. While Toronto is unlikely to surrender any of their top prospects, the Mets could acquire Thomas Hatch from their system.
The 25-year-old owns a high spin rate fastball and split time between the Cubs and the Blue Jays organizations in 2019. After being sent to Toronto, the hard-throwing righty recorded a 2.80 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 2.25 xFIP, 0.76 WHIP, .202 OPP AVG, 26.6% strikeout rate, 1.6% walk rate and a 20.8% HR/FB through six starts at double-A.
If needed, Hatch could fill in as an injury replacement at the major league level in 2020.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Since the Dodgers weren’t able to resign Ryu, their team will undoubtedly be searching to fill the final spot within their starting rotation. Heading into next season, Los Angeles’s staff is expected to include Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias.
Unless the Dodgers are planning to move Ross Stripling or Dustin May into the rotation full-time in 2020, they’ll need to add another pitcher before the conclusion of this offseason.
Based on the injuries they sustained to their pitching staff this past season, the Dodgers could definitely benefit from adding a durable pitcher like Matz, who’s thrown at least 150 innings during each of the previous two seasons.
Despite being under contract through the 2021 season, the Dodgers will likely be hesitant to surrender anyone from their 26-man roster. But, the Mets could still address one of their major needs if they were to acquire C/2B Connor Wong in exchange for Matz.
This past season in double-A, the 23-year-old hit nine doubles, nine home runs, 31 RBI, .255 ISO along with a 175 wRC+ and a slashing line of .349/.393/.604/.997 through 40 games played.
Ideally, Wong would begin the 2020 season at double-A. Based on his success from this past season, it wouldn’t be surprising for the right-hander to breeze through triple-A next season and into the major leagues at some point as well.
Los Angeles Angels
Unfortunately for Los Angeles, they failed to land any of the marquee free agent pitchers this winter. As a result, the Angels were forced to settle with Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran instead.
While their offense certainly improved by adding Anthony Rendon, the Angels’ pitching staff is still incomplete. For argument’s sake, let’s say that Shohei Ohtani isn’t capable of making more than 15 starts in 2020. So, that means the Angels will have to rely on the depth of their rotation next season.
Given the lack of experience within the back-end of the Angels’ pitching staff, an overreliance on depth could become problematic. Behind Bundy and Tehran, Andrew Heaney (who spent most of this past season on the IL) and Griffin Canning (threw just 90.1 innings and recorded a 4.58 ERA in 2019), are expected to fill out the rest of the Angels’ pitching staff.
So, Matz would allow the Angels to ease Ohtani back onto the mound, even though they probably shouldn’t. While also providing them with another pitcher who can be relied on to eat innings during next season.
In exchange for Matz, the Mets could very likely acquire outfielder Michael Hermosillo from the Angels. The soon-to-be 25-year-old has reached the major league level in each of the last two seasons. During his 62 games at triple-A in 2019, Hermosillo created eight doubles, 15 home runs, 43 RBI’s, .228 ISO, 91 wRC+ along with a hitting line of .243/.331/.471/.802.
While his offensive numbers don’t jump off the page, Hermosillo’s sprint speed ranks in the 87th percentile and the young outfielder also generated a +3 OAA during 18 games filling in for the injured Mike Trout this past season.